VMWare Partners With APX Labs to Support Workplace Wearables

Smart glasses seem to be gaining traction in the enterprise, aided by software enabling companies to quickly scale up from pilots to deployments.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Oct 06, 2016

Within the past week, Snapchat and Oakley have each announced smart glasses for consumers. (Snapchat's Spectacles record 10-second videos and stream them directly to a user's profile, while Oakley's Radar Pace headwear combines a fitness tracker with a virtual coach.) But there are signs that the enterprise's demand for smart glasses may soon be on par with—or even outstrip—consumer demand.

Last week, ABI Research released a forecast indicating that global wearable device shipments will increase from nearly 202 million this year to more than 501 million by 2021, with wearables designed for business uses expected to experience a 35 percent compound annual growth rate during that time. Particularly popular within business applications are smart glasses that support augmented-reality (AR) applications—in which, for example, workers can use a head-up display, generated by a headset, to guide them through a manufacturing or warehousing process.

A view of an assembly station, as seen through a pair of smart glasses (Photo: APX Labs)
At its Connect 2016 conference, held this week in Atlanta, Ga., cloud services and virtualization software provider VMWare announced on Tuesday that it has forged a partnership with APX Labs, which makes an operating system known as Skylight, designed specifically for managing wearable devices used in enterprise applications. Through the partnership, APX Labs' Skylight platform is now integrated into VMWare's AirWatch enterprise mobility management platform. AirWatch is mobile device management (MDM) software, used for the administration of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops as part of an enterprise software platform.

This means that companies already using the AirWatch device-management console can now access Skylight—but in a way that exceeds Skylight's standalone capabilities. For example, an IT administrator could, via the AirWatch console, add smart glasses that Skylight supports (it is hardware-agnostic) to the enterprise's network, while also configuring the device with specific enterprise applications, all while ensuring that the wearable devices comply with enterprise security policies.

"As deployments [of workplace wearables] are starting to scale, there is a need to manage devices in a coordinated way," says Jay Kim, APX Labs' chief strategy officer. This partnership, he explains, is designed to make the process of bringing smart glasses and other wearables onto a secure enterprise network, faster, more securely and with less overhead costs.

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